A bit outlandish, but here me out: I'm trying to make a villain for my story who's essentially like DC's Fallout in powers.

enter image description here

Attribution: January 2015, dc.fandom.com/wiki/Fallout

That being said, he would emit high levels of radiation from his body all around him, but still be able to walk, act, and think like a man. He would also need a containment suit to avoid damaging anyone with radiation poisoning. So what are the realist scientific advantages and disadvantages of this concept? How could it work?

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    $\begingroup$ Hi Strivs, welcome to Worldbuilding! I'm afraid that your man staying alive would be non-scientific. Do you want to handwave that detail away? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Sep 12, 2019 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ The terms of the site require that any quote or image be attributed to the original author/artist/source, please do so in future. $\endgroup$ Sep 12, 2019 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ You'll need more than a containment suit if he's operating like a nuclear reactor. Neutrons are pretty hard to stop, as are high-energy x- and gamma rays. I'm hard pushed to think of any advantages at all. A useful person to have around to clean up nuclear accidents, maybe? $\endgroup$ Sep 12, 2019 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ By "acts like a nuclear reactor" do you just mean he emits alpha, beta, and gamma radiation due to radioactive decay, or do you want him to actually be able to generate electric power or otherwise be able to power machines somehow? A nuclear generator is used to make electric power just by getting the rods hot enough through nuclear reactions to boil water, and the steam turns a turbine, so his body would have to be really hot if he generated power in that way. $\endgroup$
    – Hypnosifl
    Sep 12, 2019 at 18:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Alexander - "walk, act, and think like a man" doesn't necessarily mean his internal biology resembles a man, maybe he could be an alien or an android? $\endgroup$
    – Hypnosifl
    Sep 12, 2019 at 18:21

2 Answers 2


He is a robot powered by a fission reactor.

Your character was an Indian astronaut who got into trouble on the far side of the moon. An alien probe was nearby. Realizing that a fellow life form was in trouble (and in trouble as a direct consequence of the activities of the alien explorers) the aliens save him - or save his mind. To save his consciousness, the probe's distant masters uploaded the astronauts consciousness into the probe before his body was destroyed. Now the alien probe is his body. The aliens intended this to be a temporary solution - they figure that when his fellow humans find him, they can put his mind back in a new body and dispose of the probe.

Humans do not have the tech to do that, and so in the probe he stays. Unfortunately this probe was designed for deep space use. It uses a tremendously powerful fission reactor but because it was not going to be around any life forms, it was made with no shielding whatsoever. This also helps with radiant cooling, which is the only cooling available is space. The result is a continuous shower of hard radiation.

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    $\begingroup$ This is an engaging fable. Obviously a career as a comics writer lies ahead for you, shown by the sound origin-story for the radiation villain, but I have a lingering doubt about the relevance about the bulk of this answer. Alas, only the first sentence seems to be on topic. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Sep 13, 2019 at 5:04
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    $\begingroup$ @a4android: Orientation for subsequent sentences: in his glowy alien probe body, he can think and act like a man. With a little practice he can walk, if not like a man, like a manly alien probe. He can wear a containment suit. Or a tuxedo, or Pope robes or a gold lamé Speedo or whatever he wants, because people generally do not criticize his fashion sense. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Sep 13, 2019 at 22:12

This is basically a matter of pulling together the necessary concepts at different levels of scientific plausibility.

Assume your villain is a normal living, breathing, walking, talking, thinking and feeling human being. That's step one.

Steps two and three involves (a) providing a source for the radiation and, (b) a way of protecting a human being from high level radiation.

This suggests something science-fictional, for example, a force-field. OK. Let's assume the villain has a force-field surrounding his body. This only needs to reach a miniscule distance from the surface of his skin.

The force-field will have two functions. Firstly, it draws virtual photons and particles from the quantum vacuum and at the same time prevents from disappearing back into the quantum vacuum. This will have the effect of generating radiation, i.e., he will radiate in all directions perpendicular tot he surface of his force-field. This a variant on the concept of Hawking radiation.

Because the villain is living inside a permanent force-field, this will act as a perfect barrier to the radiation generated by his force-field. It could do this by either being totally impervious to all forms of radiation or acts as a perfect mirror or reflector to all forms of radiation. It could also act as perfect sink causing all forms of radiation to be transferred into the quantum vacuum before it can reach him or his body.

Considering the villain, operating under this concept, will have one small problem. Namely, eating and drinking or even inhaling air. Everything passing through the thin layer of his force-field will be irradiated. So he's eating, drinking and breathing radioactive matter.

Luckily if the force-field acts as a perfect sink for all radiation, sending it into the quantum vacuum, the villain won't be bothered by ingesting or inhaling anything radioactive. Any radiation will simply disappear into the quantum vacuum before it can interact with the matter constituting his body.


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